How far the mighty have fallen, and how well the termites have dined! I am, of course, referring to the odious Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), once an important voice against racism and a major player in dismantling it in America. With tons of money but not so much work to do these days, they’ve taken on a distinct Authoritarian Leftist cast, making lists of “anti-Muslim extremists” that include Muslim reformers like Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. (The SPLC quietly took down that list when Nawaz, a Muslim, threatened to sue.)
They also stash their millions of saved bucks in offshore bank accounts, which is legal but sleazy. You can see my posts on the SPLC here.
But now it’s not enough for the SPLC to make little lists of “Muslim haters”, for they’ve decided to start tut-tutting about cultural appropriation. Get a load of their recent tweet and the website they run:
Most of the festivities surrounding #CincodeMayo in the US are textbook examples of cultural appropriation, relegating the history and culture of Mexican people to novelty items. Mexican culture cannot be reduced to tacos, oversized sombreros and piñatas. https://t.co/kffsaJWPUJ
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) May 5, 2018
I don’t think anybody who celebrates Cinco de Mayo thinks or intends for their celebrations to encapsulate “all of Mexican culture.” Yes. there can be stereotypes, and I deplore those, but I don’t know who has the right to distinguish between good or bad cultural appropriation.
If you go to the page they link to at “tolerance.org,” you find first that this is a project of the SPLC, though it’s in small print at the bottom of the page. Then you get a snooty little lecture about cultural tolerance that touts one incident of Mexico-bashing (an unwise attempt by Anglo students at a California high school to exacerbate tensions with Mexicans by wearing USA-flag teeshirts on Cinco de Mayo), but that also gives us the usual but bogus definition of cultural appropriation as “borrowing + power” (my emphasis):
Most of the festivities surrounding Cinco de Mayo in the United States are textbook examples of cultural appropriation, relegating the vast history and culture of Mexican people to a few novelty items. Mexican culture cannot be reduced to tacos, oversized sombreros and piñatas.
Cultural appropriation occurs when a person or other entity—a sports franchise, for example—claims as their own an aspect of a culture that does not belong to them. Doing so can, knowingly or unknowingly, deny the authenticity of that culture, particularly if it belongs to a marginalized group, and it can send harmful messages rooted in misinformation, prejudice and stereotypes.
Well, the incident the SPLC describes is manifestly not cultural appropriation but instead simple bias against Mexicans, despite the SPLC saying it’s an “example that shows how far the celebration of Cinco de Mayo has come from its original purpose of honoring Mexicans.” And yes, there can be cultural appropriation that is bigoted and harmful, but the Cinco de Mayo celebrations by non-Mexicans rarely cross that line. And why is the SPLC lecturing us on these things? It’s a task far removed from what they used to be good at.
And there’s a lot of stuff like this, too, which is meant to apply not to colleges, but to secondary schools:Should the SPLC be lecturing schools on the urgency of amplifying LGBTQ Asian identities in the classroom, and constantly? I don’t think so.
If you want to donate to an organization fighting for civil rights, I’d suggest the ACLU, not the SPLC. I wouldn’t give a penny to that offshore-cash-stashing pack of Pecksniffs.
h/t: John B.